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Cambridge United not banking on an FA Cup windfall from Newcastle United clash

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Ian Mather, Cambridge United's chief executive officer. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ian Mather, Cambridge United's chief executive officer. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge United will not get quite as big an FA Cup bonanza as may have been anticipated from their trip to Premier League giants Newcastle United.

It had been hoped by supporters that the trip to St James’ Park on Saturday, January 8 may prove as lucrative as their clash with Manchester United in 2015, when they earned a replay after holding Louis van Gaal’s side to a 0-0 draw at the Abbey.

But while the game in the North East will certainly be beneficial to the U’s, as the clubs share the gate receipts from FA Cup fixtures, the generous ticket pricing means that it will not be such a boon as adults will be charged £10 and children £5.

“On one level, it is just a fantastic opportunity for our team and fans to experience a Premier League setting like Newcastle, with 52,000 fans watching,” said U’s chief executive officer Ian Mather.

“On that level, it’s absolutely brilliant. Financially, it’s a help although it’s not the huge payday that some people might expect.

“It’s due to the ticket pricing. Newcastle have got a history in recent years of fixing ticket prices at £10 and £5 as a thank you to the fans, and this year they are continuing that policy. It is great for the fans and our fans will benefit from that as well, but in terms of the revenue we receive, because we have a share of the gate, then obviously we’re getting less money than if it was normal ticket prices.”

The fixture has been overlooked by television companies, which would also have provided extra revenue, but Mather said: “I think it is one of those games that will draw attention.

“It’s not going to be televised but I’m sure people will be interested in the result and we will be going there with positive thoughts in our mind.”

It is a big cup period for the U’s, with a last 16 match in the Papa John’s Trophy, the FA Cup tie at Newcastle and the young U’s facing Leeds at home in the FA Youth Cup, all scheduled for early January.

“We’re playing Newcastle and Leeds, it’s some years since you could say that for the first team and youth team,” said Mather.

“It’s perhaps a measure of how far we’ve come.”

The trip to Newcastle is as much a reward for the fans and, in reference to supporters taking a boat down the Thames for the U’s clash with Charlton last Saturday, Mather joked: “I wonder whether they might take HMS Ironside up the North Sea!

“It’s going to be a lot of travelling fans – we’ve got an allocation of 5,000 and we should have a big following, I would think.”

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